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20 February 2022

Independent Senator Rex Patrick today called for the Australian Government to commence implementing sanctions against Russia in response to President Putin’s brazen and unprovoked military threats against Ukraine.

Australia and other Western countries should not wait for Russia to attack Kiev before implementing sanctions against Russia President Vladimir Putin’s regime”, Senator Patrick said. 

“Russia’s brazen military threats against Ukraine are already more than enough justification for Australia to take sanctions action without delay.”

“In the event that Russia does invade Ukraine, Australia should strongly support broad international financial sanctions and trade embargoes against Russia, and immediately expel Russia’s Ambassador in Canberra, their Consul-General in Sydney and other senior Russian diplomatic and consular personnel.” 

Australia’s new Magnitsky-style sanctions regime, enacted with unanimous parliamentary support last December, empowers Foreign Minister Marise Payne to impose economic and financial sanctions against foreign governments, organisations and individuals that are responsible for “threats to international peace and security”.

“Our new sanctions regime is explicitly designed to allow the Australian Government to be proactive in relation to threats of military aggression, not merely respond after an attack has commenced.” 

“Foreign Minister Payne emphasised this in December, saying that Australia would be able to take “timely action … to impose costs on, influence, and deter those responsible for egregious situations of international concern”. 

“There is no doubt that the Russian Government has instigated the most serious threat to peace and security in Europe since the end of the Cold War with a massive Russian attack on Ukraine, an independent, sovereign democracy seen as imminent.”

“President Putin’s threats and actions bear an eerie similarity to the tactics employed by Nazi Germany against Czechoslovakia in 1938-39 and Poland in 1939.”

“President Putin is very clearly adopting the tactics of the Nazi dictator.” 

“This should be recognised and Western democracies should act accordingly, backing rhetoric with action.” 

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been very keen to talk tough on national security over the past week. He should follow through by responding positively to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call for international action including sanctions before Russia invades.”

“Although geographically removed from the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Australia has already engaged with the events in that region as a consequence of Russia’s shooting down of Malaysian Airline Flight 17 in 2014 and we now have a further opportunity to demonstrate leadership and political resolve.” 

“We can do that by moving without delay to implement sanctions against the Russian leadership, economic entities and members of the Russian oligarchy with real estate and other financial interests in Australia.” 

“In the event that Russia does further invade Ukraine, the immediate expulsion of senior Russian diplomatic and consular personnel will also have the positive consequence of disrupting Russian intelligence activities in Australia.” 

“Australia also needs to send a very clear signal to the Chinese Government that military aggression against democratic countries will not be tolerated.  Beijing is unquestionably watching the Ukraine crisis intently with a view to their own ambitions toward Taiwan.” 

“Australia and other Western democracies need to stand together, and be proactive not reactive in the face of threats and aggression. Prime Minister Scott Morrison needs to act, not just talk.”